Jenna Steely is a designer/maker in the Bay Area working toward a more progressive future.


A sketchbook is a lot of things. A place to take notes, to dump ideas, to iterate, to doodle. It's my place for words and pictures.  

Creepy kids in creepy ads

Found a great post from Wait But Why on creepy kids in creepy vintage ads. Here's some favorites. 

Unedited photos are back...

And they look super cool! I'm really excited. Ross did an incredible job shooting to my direction, and he is a wizard with flash lighting.

Flash photography has always been a bit of a mystery to me; in design school photography classes I learned how to use hot lights and control how they filter, focus and bounce light around, and it's very WYSIWYG that way—every adjustment you make is immediately visible, and you are just shooting that visible light. But with flash, you really have no idea until you take the shot and review it. And after each adjustment, you need to take another test shot to see if the light is pointing the right way, at the correct power level, with the right levels on your camera and such. So in a way it seems trickier and more intimidating. But I now see how nice it is to have much smaller/lightweight gear that doesn't get ultra hot. It certainly is an art form, and I am grateful for such a rad friend who wants to do this for me!

Heres a quick sneak peek at a few of the unedited shots. We still have some post-processing to do to manipulate the lights a bit and clean things up, but I am just thrilled with what I'm seeing!

Jenna Comments
Portrait Inspiration

Thomas and I are engaged! With weddings come a lot of bullshit, and a lot of same-same. But we are weirdos, and we are artists. And we would like to subvert the traditional wedding route. 

First off, we're getting married at Burning Man. So that will be different and wonderful. But we will also be having a wedding in October for the friends and family who don't go to Burning Man. I haven't been that excited about planning the second wedding, because its hard to do without getting plugged into the industrial wedding world—which I loathe. But we came up with a concept now that I'm really stoked about. We're going to make the October wedding into a competition between our families/friends to decide which last name we both take. 

So for this competition-wedding, we need some engagement photos taken. But I don't want them to be normal, expected engagement photos, such as Thomas and I gazing at each other in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. I want the website and save-the-dates to have a colorful, moody vibe. As a nod to our respective aesthetics, the site will have a black and white base (Thomas), and colorful photography (me).

My friend Ross has volunteered to help me realize this vision. He's got a lot of gear and gels, and is excited to do a shoot. Here's some shots from the moodboard I shared with him:

We're meeting tonight to play around before scheduling a real shoot. I'm excited!

I, Robot Burning Man 2018 ticket design

Last week I submitted a concept for the design of the Burning Man 2018 ticket. I heard back that my design wasn't chosen—which is a bummer for sure (I mean, how cool would it be to be the guy who designed the ticket?), but I still had a lot of fun working on this. I've admired this kind of linework for a long time, and thought it might be refreshing to depart from the super painterly/illustrative style they've used in the majority of their tickets. So I tried my hand at it, which was challenging and more time consuming than I anticipated—but really fun!


I wish I would have allowed enough time for a revision round. I used a few decorative elements that I would have liked to evolve further into illustated symbols (more stuff like the man at the top), and also push the humanoid face a bit. The typography could also be a lot more interesting. 

Despite all that, I feel good about what I submitted. I'm excited to see what they picked instead for this year's ticket, but I'll have to wait just like everybody else. 


I nearly lost a finger this weekend. I was using an immersion blender like a food processor, and I tried to clear some debris from the blades with my finger. My other finger was still on the trigger. You can imagine what happened next. 

I'm still not entirely sure why I did this, or why I didn't think about how dangerous this action was. I'm fairly certain that I just didn't think.  

My initial feeling was shock from the force of the blow. Is my finger still attached? It looks attached. Now came the blood. Can I bend my finger? Are those flaps just skin or more than skin? I can't see very clearly through the blood and the salad topping I had been pulsing. I rinse it quickly, thinking about the garlic and lemon in the concoction. It burns. At least it's naturally anti-bacterial. Now control the bleeding. I grab paper towels and hold tight. My finger is throbbing. At this point I realize my alone-ness, and am relieved to remember that there are people working down in the shop.

I go down the stairs and approach Thomas, Trip and John at the chop saw. "Can I get a second opinion? Should I go to the hospital?" I ask with surprising calm. John spins into action, grabbing the first aid kit. "Ahh, that's nothing," he quips, and starts to bandage me up. He comments on my shaking fingers, and shows me a few missing finger tips and scars of his own.

I seem to have got off easy with 4 lacerations, one of them slicing through the middle of my fingernail. All the cuts are somewhat shallow though, so I don't anticipate any lasting damage. Mostly just a bruised ego and a short break from climbing. 

I'm grateful that John was there. Even though we're technically all grown ups, he's really seen some shit in his days. It's a blessing to live in a wood shop with a badass retired builder dude in the back. 

Cunt Quarterly

My sister runs a little coloring book challenge called "Cunt Quarterly." She sends out a vagina coloring page for friends to flex their creativity, color it in, and send it back. She then chooses a winner and sends them a prize. It's meant to happen quarterly, but you know how these things go...

I wanted to do mine in watercolor this time, but didn't want the thick black outlines—so I transferred the image to watercolor paper (shading the back of the coloring page and tracing over it for light graphite lines). Whether or not I win, I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

Summit T-shirts

I just whipped up a t-shirt design for Hustle's company summit happening in a couple weeks in Napa. When I have to design a t-shirt, I strive to design something that I would actually want to wear myself. Especially now that I work for a startup, since there seems to be a whole culture around wearing your startup-branded swag.  

I used a quote that I've seen floating around, "Stay humble and hustle hard." In fact a number of people have suggested that they wanted it on a t-shirt, so this is their lucky day! Ideally I'd like more time for generating a breadth of ideas, but it serves just fine for such short notice.

I had fun manipulating some existing typefaces (Quicksand for the numbers, Heritage for the script, and Voster for the san serif) into an interesting composition.